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About this poet

On July 27, 1953, Rosanna Warren was born in Fairfield, Connecticut. She studied painting at Yale University, where she graduated in 1976, and an MA in 1980 from The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University.

She is the author of Ghost in a Red Hat (W.W. Norton, 2011); Departure (2003); Stained Glass (1993), which was named the Lamont Poetry Selection by the Academy of American Poets; Each Leaf Shines Separate (1984); and Snow Day (1981).

She has also published a translation of Euripides's Suppliant Women (with Stephen Scully; Oxford, 1995), a book of literary criticism, Fables of the Self: Studies in Lyric Poetry (W.W. Norton, 2008), and has edited several books, including The Art of Translation: Voices from the Field (Northeastern, 1989).

"Rosanna Warren lives in our tarnished, everyday, ramshackle world of loss, anguish, and sacrifice," writes poet Anthony Hecht, "but she inhabits almost as vividly a realm of classic purity; and in some of her best, most moving poems she dwells in both regions at once, and within, as it seems, the same breath. It is a beautiful miracle of bilocation."

Her awards include the Pushcart Prize, the Award of Merit in Poetry and the Witter Bynner Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the May Sarton Prize, the Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets, the Ingram Merrill Foundation Award, the Ingram Merrill Grant for Poetry, a Lila Wallace Readers Digest Award, the Nation/"Discovery" Award, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the American Council of Learned Societies.

Warren served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 1999 to 2005. In the fall of 2000, she was The New York Times Resident in Literature at the American Academy in Rome.

She is a contributing editor of Seneca Review and the poetry editor of Daedalus. She was the Emma MacLachlan Metcalf Professor of the Humanities at Boston University. She is a professor at The Committee of Social Thought at the University of Chicago and lives in Chicago, IL.

Man in Stream

Rosanna Warren, 1953
You stand in the brook, mud smearing
your forearms, a bloodied mosquito on your brow,
your yellow T-shirt dampened to your chest
as the current flees between your legs,
amber, verdigris, unraveling
today’s story, last night's travail . . .

You stare at the father beaver, eye to eye,
but he outstares you—you who trespass in his world,
who have, however unwilling, yanked out his fort,
stick by tooth-gnarled, mud-clabbered stick,
though you whistle vespers to the wood thrush
and trace flame-flicker in the grain of yellow birch.

Death outpaces us. Upended roots
of fallen trees still cling to moss-furred granite.
Lichen smolders on wood-rot, fungus trails in wisps.
I wanted a day with cracks, to let the godlight in.
The forest is always a nocturne, but it gleams,
the birch tree tosses its change from palm to palm,

and we who unmake are ourselves unmade
if we know, if only we know
how to give ourselves in this untendered light.

From Ghost in a Red Hat, published by W.W. Norton. Copyright © 2011 by Rosanna Warren. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

Rosanna Warren

Rosanna Warren

Born in 1953, Rosanna Warren is the author of several collections of poetry and served as a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets